Since the beginning of school closures world-wide, I have witnessed the collegiality and raw strength of the online teaching community. Like many others, I have spent more time on Twitter this week than ever before. Teachers from around the world are sharing resource ideas and extending an arm and a leg to help others during today’s global crisis.
How do we engage students?
If students are involved in an asynchronous mode of remote learning, they will not have the presence of a teacher explicitly directing them to complete tasks. Students will need to self-regulate and motivate themselves. To solve this problem, educational technology (edtech) companies gamify learning experiences by using: friendly competition, rewards, milestones and providing positive learning environments. You can also engage your learners by creating authentic learning opportunities that activates their prior knowledge and provides a challenge.
If you haven’t already, take a look at 40+ Tools for Distance Learning, where I have listed the best online learning tools I have come across.
Engaging Educational Activities
Below are some student-centred activities that are easy to use and free to implement!
Desmos Global Maths Art Contest
The beauty of the Desmos Global Maths Art Competition is how accessible and incredibly creative the task is! Due to COVID-19, the deadline has been extended, allowing for many students from around the world to participate.
Eligibility: 13-18 years old
Close Date: April 30th, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.
Competitions are a great way to engage students in authentic learning. Keep your eye out for competitions, global or local, that may be relevant for your students. Many close quite early on in the year! If entering this year is not an option, consider making a class challenge instead or preparing to enter the following year.
Other fun competitions:
- Toyota Dream Car Art Contest (Eligibility: 15 years old or younger)
- First Lego League (Eligibility: 9-16 years old)
- M-Fluencers Math Quest (Eligibility: 5-16 years old)
Student Blogging Challenge
Recommended ages: 8-16 years old.
The Student Blogging Challenge is an authentic way to learn about publishing content online and connecting with others from around the world. The challenge involves a series of 8 weekly tasks with a focus on blogging and commenting skills.
- Student Video Contest (Eligibility: Grades 6-12)
- Student Podcasts Challenge (Eligibility: Grades 5-12) Unfortunately, the podcast challenge is open only to US residents. If you are not from this region, you can consider creating a class challenge using Anchor.fm.
Learn how to code
Create a project for your students to engage with. They can learn to code animations and games or learn robotics.
Scratch has tutorials and an easy to use interface that allows students of all ages to build games. Students can then share their games with their friends to try to get the highest score!
Tynker provides fun coding courses. It has recently been made free for teachers and students affected by school closures.
Explore interactive software
Science and mathematics simulations are awesome learning tools because they are visual and interactive.
- Mangahigh is a game-based learning platform where students can learn maths.
- PhET simulations engages students in scientific inquiry through the use of multiple representations. It is intuitive and provides real-world connections.
- Brainpop has interactive lessons on all subjects. You can request a free access for closed schools.
You can also explore many Virtual Museum Tours!
Create and share revision notes & questions
No time is better than now for students to consolidate their understanding of content that they have been taught during the academic year. Students can create their own questions and send it to their friends. The best tools I have seen for this are Quizlet and Quizziz.
Create & share video content
I have started to make short instructional videos on YouTube for my students who will be learning maths remotely – Classnotes. It requires organisational, tech and speaking skills. Your students can develop all these skills by getting involved in creating video content about what they are learning in class.
- Stop motion video
- Instructional video with interactive questions (Edpuzzle)
- Create an animation
- Time-lapse video
- Maths parody. For some inspiration:
I hope you have gained a few ideas for your online classes! Choose and adopt ideas creatively in your lessons.
Let’s continue to support our fellow educators by sharing ideas.